Stephen Thompson: ‘I’m gonna have that belt around my waist’ in 2021

By Drake Riggs - January 12, 2021

Stephen Thompson looked better than ever in his last time out. With the momentum gained to close out 2020, “Wonderboy” targets a big 2021.

Stephen Thompson, Geoff Neal

The last UFC main event of the past year saw welterweight’s Geoff Neal presented with a big opportunity — a chance to leapfrog many of the division’s top contenders with a win over a former title challenger.

Unfortunately for Neal, Thompson had other plans as he dominated his foe for five-rounds en route to a unanimous decision. Now, “Wonderboy” is ready to get back to facing fighters ranked above him rather than below.

“I know I am,” Thompson said on What the Heck about being past taking on prospects at this point. “And I hope the UFC is on the same page. I think I proved it in my last few fights against some tough guys, some up and comers, undefeated — Geoff Neal was in the UFC. The seven-fight win streak that Vicente Luque had. They’ve got to give me somebody at the top.

“I really know that I could fight for the title, for sure. I was telling everybody, 2021’s gonna be my year. It is my year. And I’m gonna have that belt around my waist.”

Understanding that he isn’t positioned for a title shot just yet, “Wonderboy” instead turned his attention to a rematch with Jorge Masvidal following his victory over Neal. At UFC 217 in 2017, Thompson outpointed “Gamebred” to kick off the event’s main card.

“I really do hope so, I think I’ve proven myself,” he spoke of rematching Masvidal. “Obviously, I poked a little bit at Leon Edwards and he wasn’t havin’ it. I know Masvidal was interested in it not too long ago when he was fighting [Kamaru] Usman. He said he wanted to defend the title against me and he wanted that win back. So I’m still in his head. Obviously, it’s still in his head about facing me again. But we’ll have to see what’s going and what happens with these fights coming up. Is Masvidal gonna be fighting Colby Covington? What’s gonna happen with Leon Edwards and Khamzat [Chimaev]? Who’s gonna win that? And obviously, everybody’s looking at that title fight in February.”

While Stephen Thompson has high aspirations for his 2021 campaign, he didn’t exit the Dec. 19 main event unscathed. A scheduled MRI within the coming weeks will determine the severity of his torn right quad.

If things aren’t too bad, “Wonderboy” aims for a return to action in March or April.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


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